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#BookmarkMonday (247): Now crushing on Dr. Seuss! Book nut!



I always remember the joys of reading Dr. Seuss. Why not relive it with me in this short read-aloud book video of ta-dah ... The Cat in the Hat*!

Now, go grab the matching bookmark by Paisley Press Dog*. I know you're not too shy to say you're a book nut! Be proud, you nut! :)

*Affiliate link

Guiltless Reading
#BookmarkMonday is a weekly meme that started in 2009. Link up your bookmark below! Don't forget to share your love for bookmarks, whether yours or you dream of making them yours:
  • Post about it on your blog/twitter/pinterest and link up below. 
  • Or share your pic with the #BookmarkMonday hashtag on Twitter so I can go check it out! 
  • If you'd like to post on the #BookmarkMonday Pinterest Board, shoot me an email at readerrabbit22 at gmail.com and I'll add you as a contributor.

Link up here!

How I #KonMari-ed my TBR (or I am holding out for gourmet donuts)

I've made a fascinating correlation between my eating and reading. 

I've realized that I've been holding out for the gourmet donut rather than any old, regular, run-of-the-mill donut. I'd rather wait for some amazing limoncello gelato in its teeny cup than a humungous tub of the cheap store brand. Or that high grade (and expensive, eep) dark chocolate rather than cave in to a sugar-laden chocolate bar that usually makes it in our Halloween stash.

You get the picture. I've been eating more intentionally. I think I've been reading more intentionally lately too.

I admit that I'm a book hoarder. When I first started blogging about books, I accepted most books for review. To the point of exhaustion. I hung on to books for years -- books that I never cracked open. I have maybe less than a hundred books right now, many of which are old favourites I've re-re-read, or are on my current TBR. So I've been keeping and picking up the books I really want to read as opposed to reading just whatever I happen to get all giddy about for the moment -- not that the two are mutually exclusive.

Before you all think I'm a book snob, let me say, no I am not! I'm simply culling the physical To-Be-Read pile and removing anything that I have in the house that I never get around to reading for whatever reason.

Here's what I did: I used the Konmari method. 
I pick up the physical book, I ask myself: "Does this spark joy in me ... RIGHT NOW?" If the very feel of the book makes me go "yay" inside, I hang on to it.  Simple as heck.

Now I have a nice collection of books - read, unread - that I am dropping off at the thrift store. I've also got a few earmarked for people I know want to read the book/s! Win-win: a manageable number of select books in the house and happy friends.

Have you done any Spring cleaning?

#Friday56 & #BookBeginnings: Barkskins


For Book Beginnings:
In twilight they passed bloody Tadoussac, Kébec, and Trois-Rivères and near dawn moored at a remote riverbank settlement.
- p. 3, ARC, page may change

For Friday 56:
Captain Bouchard consulted his letters. "Michelle Sarrazine. You understand, Mari's fame in curing the sick and injured has reached as far as Kébec. We are not so pitiful here in Wobik as some think. Although she is only a Micmac Indan."
p. 56, ARC, page may change

Synopsis of Barkskins by Annie Proulx'One of the greatest American writers' Independent From Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize---winning author of The Shipping News and "Brokeback Mountain," comes her masterwork: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about the taking down of the world's forests. In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a "seigneur," for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters - barkskins. Rene suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi'kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business.

Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years - their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions; the revenge of rivals; accidents; pestilence; Indian attacks; and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse. Proulx's inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid - in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope - that we follow them with fierce attention.

Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.

***
I've never read anything by Proulx so I'm really excited that I was offered this for review. I've heard only raves of The Shipping News, which won Proulx a Pulitizer. I've also watched the movie version of Brokeback Mountain and was impressed on all fronts. I guess we'll see how my first Proulx will go!

(PS Sorry I wasn't able to make the rounds last weekend to all the meme participants. It was one of those weird weekends, you know? I'll make it up this week!)

Have you read anything Annie Proulx? Any favourites? Does this one appeal to you?

"Everybody wants to own the end of the world" {Zero K by Don DeLillo}


"Everybody wants to own the end of the world"

Synopsis of Zero K by Don DeLilloJeffrey Lockhart's father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife, Artis Martineau, whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and Artis at the compound to say "an uncertain farewell" to her as she surrenders her body. "We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn't it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?" These are the questions that haunt the novel and its memorable characters, and it is Ross Lockhart, most particularly, who feels a deep need to enter another dimension and awake to a new world. For his son, this is indefensible. Jeff, the book's narrator, is committed to living, to experiencing "the mingled astonishments of our time, here, on earth." Don DeLillo's seductive, spectacularly observed and brilliant new novel weighs the darkness of the world-terrorism, floods, fires, famine, plague-against the beauty and humanity of everyday life; love, awe, "the intimate touch of earth and sun."

My two cents

Have you read anything by DeLillo? I've heard anything from "I love him-you should read him" and to the extreme "His-book-almost-killed-me" variety that can you blame me that I'm a little intimidated as a DeLillo newbie?

I really should get a handle on myself: stop listening to what others say. Starting this novel, I got slightly queasy because it is rather creepy with its overwhelming fixation on death ... and actually having a direct say on one's own death, and, even scarier, challenging the world's fatalistic attitude towards death. The beginning "Everybody want to own the end of the world" was a dead giveaway. 

The story revolves around Jeffrey Lockhart, who we chance upon is in the middle of monumental family decision: he has been called by his father to bear witness to his ailing stepmother's "death." But it's not an ordinary "death," it is a decision borne out of the desire to preserve her body until the time that medicine would be able to bring her back, cured and in perfect health. All this happens within a supersecret facility somewhere in Russia, which houses state-of-the-art medical technology amidst an almost cultic movement focused on the future of humanity.

The facility is funded by Jeffrey's billionaire father, Ross. A strong believer in the goal of the facility to play the crucial role of taking death into our own hands, so-to-speak, Ross realizes that there is little left for him to live for with Artis's death. He decides that he should "go with her," in other words, willingly succumb to what the book has called a state of "Zero K" which despite him not having any illness, allows his body to be preserved and to be awoken at the same time as Artis.

It is in Ross's decision where contradictory beliefs of father and son come to fore, and underscore the entire debate of man's control over death.


***

Overall, I'd characterize this as a chilling, thought provoking speculative fiction piece. I remember the chills I first had when I read Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park books decades ago; how can one not be fascinated with the prospect of bring back the extinct dinosaur to life? This recaptured that feeling but with a more human connection. Everyone becomes more and more aware of their humanity with the passage of time or when time becomes a constraint (such as with an incurable illness). Everyone will at some point ponder what they want to get out of this life and beyond, if one is to believe in life beyond the mortal body. But what if one could extend their physical life indefinitely? What would you do?

"Isn't death a blessing? Doesn't it define the value of our lives, minute to minute, year to year?" (- p. 69, ARC, page may change)

There are many philosophical and even theological questions the book asks the reader to consider, to look beyond our small selves in the context of human history. Consider:
"Do we see ourselves living outside time, outside history?" [..] "Hopes and dreams of the future often fail to account for the complexity of life as it exists on this planet. We understand that. The hungry, the homeless, the besieged, the warring factions and religions and sects and nations. The crushed economies. The wild surges of weather. Can we be impervious to terrorism? Can we ward off threats of cyber-attack? Will we be able to remain truly self-sufficient here?" (p. 65, ARC, page may change)

What makes this book even moreso intense are the images of life, death and transcendence that it so skillfully paints: a solitary, stationary figure in the midst of a ever-moving bustling city, a herd of frenzied, scared people crushing onward to who knows what, anguished faces and tortured bodies of self-immolants.   


While I think there is a lot of big ideas floating about, the book is firmly grounded in the opposing views of the father and son making me feel much more connected to the whole dilemma. Otherwise, I honestly may have gotten lost in the concepts! There are plenty of gems hidden in this one and I suspect depending on what your own inclinations or interests are, you will respond in some way, especially with DeLillo's writing with its simple, descriptive and evocative quality.

I can't claim to fully grasp this book but it is enough for me want to look up more of DeLillo's work.

Verdict 

Life is finite. Humanity wants to and has the power to extend it indefinitely. Despite all these big questions and concepts talked about, the dilemma is real for Jeffrey, Ross and Artis. Read this chilling speculative piece and ponder about your own stand on life and death.


Note: An ARC was provided to me by the publisher for honest review consideration. 




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© guiltless readingMaira Gall